As many as two-thirds of women will experience hair thinning, according to a Harvard Medical School study. So, if you have fine hair already or notice your hair has been thinning as of late (it’s normal to lose roughly 100 hairs a day, but significantly more than that isn’t typical), it might be time to make some changes to your routine to prevent breakage and even worse, hair loss. To keep you ahead of the thinning-hair curve, Cosmopolitan.com talked to New York hairstylist Kevin Mancuso, creative director for Nexxus Salon Hair Care, about how to treat, prevent, and plump up skinny strands.
1.Loosen the tension. Constantly pulling on your hair and causing tension on your strands — by putting it into tight ponytails, excessively blow-drying it straight with a brush, or wearing extensions without giving you hair a break every few months — can permanently damage your hair follicles and actually cause hair loss or traction alopecia (as it’s medically termed). Mancuso advises his clients with thinning hair to choose looser styles rather than tight updos all the time and to opt for a brushless blow-dry (where you just use your fingers and the heat from the dryer) first before styling, both of which give hair a break from styling practices that can thin strands out even more.
2. Never skip conditioner. Not using conditioner is one of the biggest mistakes women with fine hair make. Because your hair is thin and often falls flat, you may instinctually avoid daily rinse-out conditioners and even any leave-in sprays or treatments too, thinking they’ll weigh down your hair. However, the opposite can be true, as long as you choose a lightweight formula. Here’s why: Over time, lack of hydration causes hair to become damaged and brittle, causing the actual diameter of each strand to become smaller. You do want to avoid ultra-softening conditioners formulated for extremely damaged hair which can be too heavy, and opt for those that are “as lightweight as possible,” Mancuso suggests. “Look for those that contain panthenol and glycerin that moisturize and support the thickening of your hair.” These ingredients keep fragile hair strong and responsive to styling. (Try Dove Oxygen Moisture Conditioner and Nexxus Hydra-Light Leave In Conditioning Foam.)
3.Chill on heat styling. The hair shaft of fine or thinning hair can break easily under high heat, so use your hot tools sparingly if you can. But, if your beauty routine requires a blow-dry, and a curling or flat iron, always use a protective spray on your hair first. Mancuso suggests gentle, lightweight mists for clients with thinning hair that have shielding ingredients such as dimethicone and glycerin to prevent future breakage and dehydration. (Try TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray.)
4. Eat a healthy and nutritious diet. What you eat — and how often — has a huge effect on the health of your hair. Your body needs constant fuel in the form of essential fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, and minerals such as zinc, iron and selenium to grow healthy hair. But don’t expect to start to load up on nutrients important for healthy hair and a week later see results. “It could take anywhere from several months or longer to notice the difference in your hair,” Stephanie Middleberg, a dietitian in NYC, says. “Hair is built from the inside out so a healthy body is important for healthy hair — but it will take time if you haven’t been getting enough of those nutrients for a while.”
5. Listen to your body. Sometimes, thinning hair is caused by medical factors, like thyroid problems, dramatic weight loss or gain, and anemia. Even heavy menstrual cycles can cause brittle, fragile hair from losing too much iron. “Any kind of hormonal balance dictates how your body is working in general,” Mancuso says. “As you get older, even in your 30s, your body is changing so you want to be in tune to what’s happening.” If something seems up with your system, always consult a doctor to get to the root of the problem.
6. Know your family history. Heredity also plays a role in hair loss. You could be prone to thinning hair just based on genetics alone. A good way to suss out whether or not you might see signs of thinning is by scoping out your family tree — from either the maternal or paternal side. If you see a pattern of hair loss or balding, see a trichologist (an expert who specializes in hair and scalp health) about what you can do to prevent the symptoms with supplements, diet changes, or laser therapy treatment that could help rev hair growth.